Northeast – Kharkiv Area of Operations.
- RFAF continues its force build-up operations in Izyum to support future operations south towards the Donbass region. This includes reports of RFAF being reinforced with proxy forces re-deployed from the Luhansk region.
- UAF conducted a counterattack on Chuhuiv, reportedly delaying RFAF plans to increase its operations from Izyum.
- Up to 22 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) are now reported to be located on the Izyum axis.
- RFAF have launched limited offensive activity towards Slovyansk on the M03 route, unsuccessfully probing Ukrainian defences near Dovhen’ke.
- UAF conducted successful counterattacks in several towns to the south-east of Kharkiv, including Bazalievka, Lebyazhe, and Kutuzivka.
- RFAF continues to target Kharkiv city with indirect fire, with heavy strikes across multiple districts reported on 17 & 18 Apr 2022.
Post showing reported video from liberated villages in Kharkiv region following UAF counteroffensive. Source: @Asbghostyeni4
East – Donbas Area of Operations (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort).
- Ukrainian officials stated that RFAF began its large-scale Donbass offensive on 18 Apr 2022.
- RFAF now control Kreminna and are reportedly pushing towards Zarichne and Tor’sker. Other notable RFAF operations continue to be focused on Popasna, Rubizhne, and Sievierodonetsk.
- RFAF conduct limited offensive activity towards Slovyansk and Barvinkove without success, as UAF reinforces its defensive perimeter around the city. RFAF troops also reported to be building up along the line of contact to the east, ahead of a future push towards Kramatorsk.
- Extensive air and artillery bombardment activity reported across the Donetsk region, notably Maryinka and Avdiivka.
Post reporting that RFAF and proxy forces have installed Russian flag at Kreminna administration centre following its reported capture. Source: @Osinttechnical
South – Kherson and Black Sea Coast Area of Operations.
- UAF resistance in Mariupol continues as its remaining units have withdrawn to the Azovstal steel plant. Russian officials have made several demands for UAF to surrender, including one up until 1100hrs, which have not been met.
- Concurrently, RFAF has intensified its air, artillery, and rocket bombardment of the Azovstal Industrial Zone.
- Continuation of last week’s Mariupol reporting that encircled UAF and civilians lack supplies of food, water and ammunition.
- RFAF continue to bolster its defensive positions around Kherson, whilst its units inside the city continue to clamp down on Ukrainian resistance against its occupation. Heavy fighting was also reported in Oleksandrivka, which was repelled by the UAF.
- RFAF current defensive lines allows its artillery batteries to target Mykolaiv, as has been observed on most days in the last reporting period.
- Shelling also continues in Kryvyi Rih.
- In Zaporizhis region, RFAF’s reported main effort is between Huliapole and Velyka Novosilka.
Post showing video from UAF solider in Mariupol, requesting assistance to evacuate its forces and civilians inside the Azovstal steel works. Source: @lapatina_
- The sinking of Russia’s flagship cruiser, Moskva, has dominated headlines in the past week. According to Ukrainian sources, it struck the vessel with long-range missiles, causing irreparable damage. However, this has been refuted by Russian officials, who claimed that onboard explosions caused by ammunition stocks were the root cause of the incident. US officials believe the Ukrainian version of events to be true and western naval experts commented to UK media outlets that footage of the damage was consistent with missile damage. However, this has been countered in other outlets, who believe there isn’t yet enough proof to confirm this assessment.
Post showing image of the Moskva cruiser vessel. Source: @johnkonrad
- Two British nationals were paraded on Russian state TV following their capture in Mariupol. During their respective appearances, both men asked the UK government to facilitate their exchange by securing the release of oligarch, Viktor Medvedchuk – who is under Ukrainian arrest. Russian officials claim that both men were mercenaries, which is contradictory to western information sources who have reported that both men were members of the UAF.
Article providing a biographical outline on the importance of Viktor Medvedchuk, who is currently in Ukrainian detention. Source: @lapatina_
Post linking to UK article on British national’s appearance on Russian state TV. Source: @alfonslopeztena
- Several Ukrainian allies have pledged further military assistance to support the UAF’s front-line units. The US is expected to sign-off an additional USD 800 million to what has already been pledged in recent weeks. This will include anti-tank, artillery, air defence weapon systems, and armoured personnel carriers. Germany is reported to be supplying Ukraine with financial assistance to procure heavy weaponry, plus the Czech Republic are reportedly able to assist Ukraine to repair its MBT and armoured vehicle fleets. As these announcements have cascaded across the international discourse, Russia reiterated its fierce opposition to this assistance, stating that NATO and the West is actively seeking to prolong the invasion.
Article outlining extent of US military assistance to Ukraine. Source: @usatodayDC
- The sinking of the Moskva cruiser vessel is a notable propaganda victory for the UAF, removing a symbolic piece of Russian military power from the battlespace. Whilst there is a split view on whether Moskva’s removal represents a significant degradation of Russian military capability, most commentators believe it will have a negative amplifying effect on the morale of its units, and the public perception back in Russia and in the wider international community. The media reaction in Russia and its occupied territories has been largely muted and unemotional as expected. This included avoidance of the subject of casualties, nor any further elaboration on Ukrainian claims that it was responsible for the sinking of the vessel. However, some guests on Russian state TV did provide a more emotive insight, claiming that the Moskva loss was a ‘casus belli’ for escalation. Internationally, many nations reporting on this story have predominantly run with the Ukrainian version of events, seeing the fate of the Moskva vessel as a materiel loss for the RFAF at a critical phase of the invasion.
- Announcements of additional military assistance to the UAF has raised the question of how far NATO and the West will go to give Ukraine a military advantage in this current phase of the invasion. It is assessed that the RFAF will be in a better position to advance along the line of contact, than in comparison to its efforts in Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. Therefore, it is imperative for Ukraine to receive a consistent supply of weapon systems that have been a difference maker on the battlespace. However, this comes with some strategic risks, as have been evident so far in the invasion. Russia is highly likely to view any increase in military assistance as an escalatory step. For NATO and its allies, this is a balancing act between the threat of Russian escalation versus operational advantage. This calculation will also need to consider the long-term perspective, which some media reports suggest hasn’t been the alliance’s focus, currently assessed to be: what support is ultimately needed to achieve a decisive Ukrainian victory in this conflict?
Despite reports of RFAF initiating its next phase of the invasion, there is unlikely to be any significant territorial changes in the next 7-days. RFAF are likely to remain committed to pushing east from Kreminna, where they have achieved success in the last reporting period. Zarichne, Rubizhne, Popasna, and Sievierodonetsk are likely to be the RFAF main effort along the Donbass line of contact, whilst UAF positions remain fixed in Donetsk, under heavy artillery bombardment. Any successful advances along this avenue of approach will then enable RFAF to mount further offensive operations towards Kramatorsk. It is also a realistic possibility that RFAF will commit troops from the Izyum axis to probe Ukrainian defences in the vicinity of Barvinkove to support the envelopment of the Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. However, the planned advance from the Izyum axis could be hampered by further UAF successes north of the city, threatening its lines of communication, delaying reinforcement until a later date. The UAF effort in Mariupol continues to hinder RFAF redeployments to the Donbass and other axes. Current reporting shows that the RFAF will increasingly bombard UAF positions in the Azovstal steel plant, exacerbating the current humanitarian situation inside the plant. This will increase the likelihood of further Ukrainian-led attempts to secure the safe evacuation of its soldiers and civilians situated in Azovstal steel plant in the immediate term.